The Paris Opera Ballet, one of the leading ballet companies in the world, is set to stage “Giselle,” an iconic French romantic ballet, from Wednesday to Saturday.
The oldest national ballet company in the world premiered the piece in 1841, and will be performing in Korea for the first time in 30 years. The same piece was performed in Korea in 1993.
“‘Giselle’ is a performance that best captures the characteristics of French ballet,” said Jose Martinez, director of the Paris Opera Ballet, at a press conference held at the LG Arts Center in Seoul on Tuesday. Martinez was in Seoul 30 years ago as a dancer.
“It shows very technical elements ballet can have. Yet it is not only the technique that is important but the expression and emotions that can be conveyed through the techniques and transformations of various techniques,” he said.
Martinez said the performance is as faithful to the original work as possible.
“We respect the very essence of classical ballet, and this is the ideal embodiment of French ballet where artists’ characteristics are also expressed.”
A total of 120 members -- 70 dancers and 50 staff -- are in Seoul for the five performances at the LG Arts Center. The ballet was staged in Daegu on Friday and Saturday.
“We brought stage decoration, makeup, stage equipment and medical staff. We wanted to perform and stage the same classical stages as in Paris.”
"Giselle" revolves around a peasant girl named Giselle who falls in love with a nobleman in disguise, Albrecht.
Three pairings are scheduled to perform Giselle and Albrecht. Myriam Ould-Braham and Germain Louvet take to the stage on Thursday and Saturday evening; Leonore Baulac and Paul Marque on Friday; and Dorothee Gilbert and Guillaume Diop on Saturday afternoon.
Joining the press conference were Gilbert and Diop. Martinez introduced Gilbert as a versatile dancer portraying “Giselle’s delicate sensibilities through her experience and excellent techniques.”
“‘Giselle’ in particular has a lot of technical leg movements. Steps, jumping and landing in the second act is something to watch out for,” said Gilbert.
“Each dancer is so different in performing their own Giselle. It is because the personality of the dancer and the technical maturity of the dancers are portrayed through the performance,” she said. “I believe that Giselle I danced 15 years ago is not the same as Giselle I will dance this week. That's why dancers continue to perform Giselle.”
Diop, who joined the tour when Hugo Marchand sustained an injury before leaving for Korea, said he is honored to perform with Gilbert.
“‘Giselle’ is open to many interpretations and has technically challenging scenes. How I can convey the feelings and emotions of Albrecht in dramatic moments will be a challenge,” said Diop.
Korean ballerina Kang Ho-hyun, who joined the French ballet company in 2018, will take on the role of Willy, the ghost of Giselle, and participate in group dances. Kang was promoted to “sujet,” equivalent to the modern soloist, in 2022.
“It is a great honor to participate as a Korean in the first Korean tour in 30 years,” Kang said, adding she was pleased by the opportunity.
“The choreography features a lot of foot technique and the costume emphasizes dancers’ legs and ankles. So I tried to pay exceptional attention to the position of my legs,” she said.
Korean dancer Park Sae-eun, who was named “etoile,” or principal dancer, in 2021, becoming the first Asian person to hold the title in the 353-year-old company’s history, did not join the Korean tour due to pregnancy.